Gunung Brinchang is the highest peak in Malaysia which is connected by a paved road. At 2,031 meters, it is significantly higher than the second highest paved road connected peak, Genting Highlands at 1,860 meters. What’s remarkable is that Gunung Brinchang is one of 20 odd mountains which is more than 2,000 meters in Peninsular Malaysia and it is only 159 meters lower than the highest, Gunung Tahan. We have driven up Gunung Brinchang about half a dozen times, enjoying the journey every single time.
We have contemplated hiking up Gunung Brinchang in the past but we failed to get clear directions from the locals each time we asked about Gunung Brinchang. The most common response was that it would better for us to get a guide. It appears to be a local conspiracy to promote the local tourism. We couldn’t get any help from the blogs either as most concentrate on Gunung Irau, the most popular trekking destination at Cameron Highlands. Having done Irau, Perdah, Jassar and Berembun, we just had to complete Brinchang. So after lunch and checking in at our hotel, May and I set out on a recce at 3.00 pm to seek out the Brinchang trek.
The only clue we had gathered was that the trail starts at the water catchment area. We headed towards the area and came across a big “No Entry” sign. But there was a wide dirt road and there were no gates or fences. We decided to proceed and ask for directions if we get stopped. We reached a fenced up area which is the water catchment centre and luckily for us, we managed to find a sign board for the Gunung Brinchang at side of the fence. The starting point was only about 1 km from the main road and was relatively easy to find. Wonder why we have been given the runaround all this while.
As we entered the trail, we were immediately rewarded with beautiful mossy forests. We came across a sign which says that it was only 2.99 km to the Brinchang peak. We were at a dilemma as we had planned only for a recce trek so we wore only our casual shoes and had some mineral water. We left behind our packs, lights and GPS. It was 3.30 pm. We decided to proceed and targetted to reach the peak by 5.00 pm. That should give us the same amount of time for the return trek.
The trek was relatively easy and we managed to move with ease. The daylight was failing faster than we anticipated. Even at 4.30 pm, it looked like 6pm in the thick jungle foliage. We hurried and managed to reach the peak at 5 pm. The first thing we encountered at the peak was a fence spreading right across the trail.
We walked around the fence and came to the road leading to the peak. From here, it was a short walk to the peak. There used to be a look out tower at the peak but this is now in disrepair while the foliage has outgrown and covered any possible view. We are now stuck with a choice. Do we go back through the jungle which is 2.97 km or do we take the road which is a 11 km walk. We decided to be safe as we did not have any head lamps with us. With the dimishing light, any wrong turn would land us in the jungle in the dark.
It was then a long walk down Gunung Brinchang following the paved road.
We were lucky to reach the tea plantation while there is still light and had a good view of one of our favourite sights of Cameron Highlands.
When we reached the main trunk road, it was already dark and we had to walk with a heavy traffic of holiday vehicles passing us.
We finally reached Brinchang town where we parked our car at 8.15 pm, satisfied that we have finally managed our Gunung Brinchang hike.
Came across Doi Angkhang while I was doing some research on the highest peaks in Thailand. The highest, Doi Inthanon at 2,565 meters can be reached by road. This did not interest us as it would have been filled with tourists. Doi Angkhang looked an interesting trekking prospect instead especially it was only 162 km from Chiang Mai and it is next to the Burmese border.
May & I left immediately after breakfast, planning to reach before noon.
|We passed by some nice farmlands which prompted a photo stop.|
|After more driving, we decide to stop at lovely tea stop.|
|Interestingly, we found a mystical old man blowing his flute at the camp site.|
|We could see the peak of Doi Angkhang from the military camp but there was no sight of any trail heads.|
After 45 minutes of hiking and looking for trails to the peak, we heard voices. We knew we were close. We finally found some clearing and there were wide trails leading upwards. We were finally out of the wilderness.
|We reached a hut on a false peak which looked like an army outlook post on top of the mountain.|
|Then we met some locals returning from the peak. This lady, a lecturer from a local university could speak good English and to our relief told us that the peak was just another 5 minutes hike.|
|Finally standing at the peak of Doi Angkhang – 1928 meters|
|No regrets for making the climb even though a short one but the view was truly rewarding.|
|The peak was a breath taking view of Myanmar on one side and Thailand on the other.|
After taking in as much of the view as possible, we followed the locals down the mountain via the correct trail. It was only 15 minutes down to the main road. We exited about 200 meters from the military camp where we tried to look for the trail.
I have done it again, going missing in action for a year.
Anyway, I am still around but have been busy with other media especially FB. Did managed outings to Gunung Dato, Bukit Panorama, Rainbow Waterfalls and Tabur East during this hiatus. Also did some trekking in Hong Kong, worship the sun in Hua Hin and clubbing in Saigon. But one of the most significant events was participating in Bersih April 28 which was an eye opener.
So much still going on, so much stories to tell so where do I start?!
Sorry for the long break. Let’s see if I could restart……
Managed to run 5 rounds at Chatin Lake today. It is no big deal for most runners as each round is only 1.4 km making it a 7 km run but for a 96 kgs in his 40s, it was quite an effort. Not the first time, I did 5 rounds non stop but the first time doing under the hour.
- 1st round – 11 min 31 secs
- 2nd round – 11 min 06 secs
- 3rd round – 11 min 57 secs
- 4th round – 11 min 57 secs
- 5th round – 11 min 49 secs
- Total – 58 min 20 secs
Next target would be my elusive 10 km non stop. Did a 10 km last month but with rest stops.
October would the month to separate the real contenders from the pretenders.
It kicks off with a double derby with Liverpool vs Everton (Oct 1) and Arsenal vs Tottenham (Oct 2).
After a week’s break, Liverpool host Manchester United (Oct 15) followed by a Manchester derby at Old Trafford between Manchester United vs Manchester City (Oct 23).
Finally, Chelsea entertains Arsenal (Oct 29) to end the month.
Who will stay at the top of the league come November?
While reading through MAS Going Places September 2011 issue’s Hotel Hit List, I can’t help but find the Malaysian hotels listed incongruously in the list to be in poor taste. No disrespect to the listed Malaysian hotels but expectations from tourists coming into the country would be high from the article which lists some of the world’s truly top hotels, notably;
Houshi Ryokan, the world’s oldest surviving hotel built in 717 and still run by the same family for 46 generations.
Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, the first meeting place for the League of Nations which became the United Nations,
Badrutts Palace Hotel built in 1896, the grand establishment of St Moritz which has long been the playground of the European elite
Ritz Carlton Hotel, Hong Kong, world’s tallest hotel with a world class view
Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai built in 1903, the icon of India
Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur which is regularly voted as a top 50 hotels in the world. In 2011, Oberoi Udaivilas was voted fifth best hotel in the world by Travel and Leisure Magazine.
Maison Moschino, the Italian mega-brand hotel that showcases haute couture allure with avant-garde decor
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai, the pride of the Persian Gulf
Ecocamp, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Pantone Hotel, Brussels
Hotel Silken Puerta America, Madrid
Scholosshotel in Grunewald, Berlin
The list goes on and included in the list are the Malaysian establishments which could not compare with the other listed hotels in terms of history, uniqueness, importance, luxury. Imagine the huge dissappointment the tourist would face when they discover that the Malaysian hotels were just ‘ordinary’. The idea was to promote the Malaysian hotels but when you try to promote a Proton as a Ferarri, the damage would be irreparable.
Landed in Suvarnabhumi airport early and decided to check out their airport train. It was a 5 min walk from the arrival gates. Signages are sufficient. Quite tourist friendly. There was a long queue for tickets. Was told that it would take 30 minutes to get to the city centre. Ticket cost 90 Baht for express and 45 Baht for regular. Took a regular and waited for only 5 minutes before embarking on my first train from the airport to Bangkok city centre at 12.45 pm.
There was a gap of 5 inches between platform and train which may prove hazardous for an over eager passenger. So much for Thai engineering precision. After all it is only 5 inches, mai pen rai. For me, it was too big a gap for comfort.
The seats were comfortable and the A/C was good making the 5 minutes wait pleasant which could be better if there was piped in music. The journey started at 12.51 pm.
Arrived the first stop at Lat Krabang station 12.57 pm. The train continued to the next stop, Ban Trap Chang station 1.02 pm.
After Ban Trap Chang, the train appear to be passing the last frontier of outer Bangkok. Green fields, wooden houses where an intricate vein of canals flow feeding into an abundance of fish farms.
We reached Hua Mak station at 1.06 pm. Could see more concrete buildings rising higher to meet the sky. Square block of flats replaces the wooden houses.
We promptly stopped at Ramkamhaeng station 1.10 pm. Crowd begin pouring in. There is only standing room from here. Outside the train shop lots replaces houses. Commercial buildings substitute flats of dwellings.
Next stop is Makkasan station, the main station. Arrived at 1.13 pm, exactly 22 minutes from airport. Large empty modern building surrounded by old dilapidated godowns
Ratchaprarop station came up at 1.16 pm. We are entering the city center from here. Sky scrapers towers all round.
Finally reached the last stop Phaya Thai station at 1.18 pm. Disembarked and proceed to the stairs. Found the 6 feet wide stairs to be too narrow for comfort. Three farangs would have covered the entire width.
It was a 10 minutes walk to the BTS skytrain and a short ride to Chitlom station, reaching at 1.36 pm. From Chitlom, it was another 15 minutes walk to Grand Centra Hotel, my destination.
Overall, it took about 1 hour 10 minutes to reach my destination versus 40 minutes by taxi. Plus point is that cost only 45 baht and you get a nice elevated tour of Bangkok.